Timeline — 11/15

Governor Cuomo Forms Commission to Look into Power Utility Companies

Hurricane Sandy affected millions of New Yorkers, leaving some without power for as long as two weeks. Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order aimed at reducing that wait time for when the next big storm hits.

A commission has been established under the Moreland Act – a 1907 law allowing the governor to look into the management of any department, board, bureau, or commission in the state – whose job will be to look into the management of New York’s power utility companies. The preparation and response of these companies will be thoroughly reviewed both before and after emergencies take place in the area.

The commission will make recommendations for improvement, and work towards fixing the overlap of responsibilities between NYPA, LIPA, NYSERDA, and the Public Service Commission. More information can be found at www.governor.ny.gov.


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Leads to Hospitalization of Seven Rockland County Residents

With the recent power outages due to Hurricane Sandy, residents have been powering up generators to stay warm and keep food fresh. Improper use of these devices, however, can lead to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, an illness that sent seven Rockland County Residents to the hospital.

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer,” because it is a gas that cannot be seen, smelt, or tasted. It prevents the body from absorbing oxygen, leading to flu-like symptoms, and exposure over an extended period of time can lead to loss of consciousness, brain damage, and death. It is important to immediately seek fresh air if carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, and to call the fire department and gas company once outdoors.

If using a generator to provide power, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and to keep it outside. Letting these devices run in enclosed spaces leads to a buildup of CO fumes. Battery-operated CO alarms should be installed on every level inside buildings to ensure safety from this deadly gas.

For further information, visit the New York State Department of Health’s website at www.health.ny.gov.


Controversy Over United Water NY Rate Increases

Several Rockland County legislators are pushing the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) to reopen the case involving rate increases for United Water NY.

The water company requested, and was granted, a rate increase in 2006 by the PSC. Now, however, new information is available that has Chairwoman Harriet Cornell and Vice Chairman Alden H. Wolfe requesting an issues conference and a hearing from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

United Water is working on plans to create a desalination plant on the shore of the Hudson River, but has not discussed the impact of the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge on the project.

Several other issues have arisen including a study showing cleaner water than was reported to the PSC in 2006. According to economists at ECONorthwest, United Water’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement also contains insufficient information regarding cost assumptions and comparisons. Additionally a decreased demand for water due to the closing of all but one of Pfizer Global Manufacturing’s buildings by 2014, will have an effect.

Legislators are asking the water company to create a detailed plan of action, including goals, a timeline, staffing information, and a realistic budget.


Emergency Management Director Fired for Abuse of Power During Hurricane 

Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, dismissed the director of the State Office of Emergency Management who is accused of misusing workers during Hurricane Sandy.

Steven Kuhr, who has held the position of director for a little over a year, is said to have sent workers to his home on Long Island to clear a tree from his driveway. Kuhr has worked as part of other emergency management groups prior to his position as director of the state’s management office.

Gov. Cuomo’s decision has received support from other political leaders. Though it seems strange to dismiss Kuhr while the state is still recovering from the crisis of the storm, he was never in charge of the efforts to restore normalcy. That position is held by Howard Glaser, the state’s operation director.


Rockland County Executive Calls on MTA to Hold Hearing

MTA hearings are being held in 10 of 12 member counties, but Rockland is not one of them.

Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef wrote a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, suggesting a hearing be held to discuss proposed fare increases. Vanderhoef is opposed to these increases, as there is a severe gap between money paid by the county and the services received.

Because of this gap, Vanderhoef believes Rockland County should be exempt from the fare hikes.


Muslim hired by U.S. Army Charged with First Degree Murder in his Wife’s Death; Family had Blamed “Hate Crime”

Eight months after his wife’s murder, which was claimed by her family to be a hate crime, an Iraqi-American man was arrested Thursday and is being charged with homicide.

Shaima Alawadi, 32, was found in her home in El Cajon, California on March 21, beaten to death and accompanied by a note with phrases such as “terrorist” and “go home.” Alawadi’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, said a similar note had been received the week before her mother’s death. The family had brushed it off as a prank.

Charged with first-degree murder, Kassim Alhimidi, 48, claims to have been taking the couple’s younger children to school when his wife’s death occurred. He formerly served as an Islamic cultural affairs officer for the U.S. Army.

Divorce papers not yet filled out were found in Alhimidi’s car, and police say other Iraqi-American families in the community should not worry, as they believe this to be an isolated incident and not a crime of hate. Alhimidi’s arraignment arraignment was scheduled for November 13.


28-Year-Old Ramapo Man Struck and Killed on NYS Thruway 

Exiting his car after crashing into the center guardrail on the NYS Thruway, the 28-year-old man was struck and killed by another vehicle.

Nicholas Kcira, of Monsey, lost control of his 2003 Honda Civic in foggy conditions on Monday. His car was in the left lane on the southbound side of the thruway with a dislodged engine when he stepped out of it, and both he and his car were struck. The incident occurred at 2:52 a.m. near exit 14.

David Li, 23, of Albany, was driving his 2008 Lexus when he sent Kcira over the guardrail and into one of the northbound lanes. He suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at the Nyack Hospital Emergency Room at 3:37 a.m.

Li and his passenger, Fernando Londono, 22, of New Rochelle, did not suffer life-threatening injuries but were sent to Nyack Hospital, Li complaining of back pain. The accident is being investigated by the state police accident reconstruction team.


Rockland Sheriff’s Officer Loses Gun During Off-Duty Roadrage Incident

After an incident involving two other men, a Rockland sheriff’s officer lost his gun during a roadrage incident on Saturday.

Officer Garrett Clapp was engaged in a traffic dispute with Jose and Gregory Lopez, of Haverstraw, along Route 45 at 2:58 a.m. Lopez – it is unclear which was driving – flashed the high beams of his Honda and sped around Clapp’s vehicle multiple times. Both vehicles pulled over, where Clapp was reportedly pushed to the ground and had his gun taken from him.

The two men then drove off, with Clapp following while simultaneously dialing 911. All three men were stopped on Route 210 by Stony Point police and brought to Ramapo police department for questioning.

All gave a similar story, but there is not enough information for any arrests right now. It is not believed that Clapp identified himself as a police officer. The officer has served for 14 years, has certification as a mounted police officer. Despite bruises received during the confrontation, he has returned to work.


Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Most Likely to Resign as Part of Plea Deal 

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. was accused of having used campaign funds for his own personal use. He is currently negotiating a plea deal with the federal government.

As part of this deal, Jackson would have to resign from his 17-year position as Congressman for Chicago’s South Side and suburbs due to health reasons. He is being treated for bipolar disorder. He must also pay back the money that he misused, plead guilty to a charge of misuse of campaign funds, and will likely spend time in jail.

The deal will probably be settled and take effect by the end of the year. A special election will be held to determine Jackson’s successor.

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